5 Late-Round Prospects That Would Be a Perfect Fit for the Green Bay Packers
Excitement runs high for the first two rounds of the NFL draft as college football's best and brightest learn which NFL team made their dreams a reality.
After the 64th pick, however, fan excitement dies down and the real dirty work begins. That's when the league's best general managers, like the Green Bay Packers' Ted Thompson, try to find a diamond in the rough. The Packers have found much depth in the draft that has enabled them to fight off the injury bug two of the last three years.
Everyone focuses on the first two rounds, but it is in the middle and especially the later rounds where the "meat and potatoes" of an NFL roster are found. Some of the players selected late go on to be career backups while others buck the odds and go on to be all-time greats.
Packers fans are familiar with the story of Donald Driver, who was a seventh-round draft pick in 1999. Could Green Bay strike gold again in the later rounds of the 2013 draft?
Here are five potential late-round selections that would fit perfectly with the Packers.
DE Joe Kruger, Utah
It's no secret the Packers need help along the defensive line, and although they likely will take someone early, Kruger would still be an excellent late-round pickup.
At 6'6" and 269 pounds, Kruger is big enough to play a 3-4 end and also versatile enough to play in a 4-3. While Green Bay remains firmly committed, a potential change in the defensive coaching staff after 2013 could potentially change their defense to more of a hybrid scheme.
Kruger showed flashes at Utah and was not consistently dominant, hence why he will likely be taken in the later rounds of the draft. However, his strong work ethic and high effort are things Thompson cherishes, and Kruger's quick feet and good closing speed are things the Packers can work with as they try to improve a mediocre defensive line.
RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Much like the defensive end, the Packers very well could take a running back in the earlier rounds. If they don't, there is still plenty of depth at the position.
That's where Barner comes into play. At 5'9" and 196 pounds, he's the same height and just a little lighter than Green Bay running back DuJuan Harris.
With the Packers looking to take wide receiver Randall Cobb off return duty, Barner could fill that role nicely, as he returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown at Oregon
Don't count out Barner as a running back, however. Though he isn't a tank that can run you over, Barner possesses good straight-line speed and has the stop-and-go ability that would be able to get him out of tight quarters. He's also good as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and would be an asset in the Packers' screen game.
TE Zach Sudfeld, Nevada
With Jermichael Finley officially back in Green Bay for 2013, the Packers may not take a tight end in the early rounds of the draft.
That opens up the possibility of selecting a tight end in the later rounds and Sudfeld would fit the Packers nicely. At 6'7" and 253 pounds, he would be a big target for Aaron Rodgers and he has natural receiving skills.
With this being such a late selection, Thompson could really strike it rich. Sudfeld has a very high ceiling should he be able to remain healthy. If he can't, then the Packers don't lose much. It's a low-risk, high-reward selection.
OT Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin
The Packers have avoided drafting Wisconsin Badgers recently, but given Green Bay's struggles (and Wisconsin's success) with the offensive line, selecting a Badger would be a sound move for Thompson.
Ricky Wagner would be an excellent selection in the late rounds. He has played both tackle positions, which would help the Packers with Bryan Bulaga returning from a hip injury and Marshall Newhouse's inconsistency. Wagner is also a good run blocker, as Montee Ball's time as Wisconsin corroborates.
With good initial quickness and the ability to keep defenders at bay, Wagner helped open up running lanes for Ball and could do the same for the Packers. He's also done well in pass protection, which would be huge for Green Bay since Rodgers was sacked 51 times last year.
Wagner very well could end up being a depth selection, but that would still be a win for the Packers who saw the consequences of having a thin offensive line in 2012.
K Brett Maher, Nebraska
Green Bay recently brought in Giorgio Tavecchio to compete with Mason Crosby for the kicking job, but that appears (on paper at least) to be only for show.
Crosby needs to be seriously challenged, and drafting Maher would send that signal. Unlike Caleb Sturgis of Florida, Maher has kicked in a climate at least somewhat similar to Wisconsin and wouldn't have too much trouble adapting to the elements at Lambeau.
The jury is out as to whether Maher would be able to beat out Crosby, but he deserves a chance. He scored 119 points in 2012, which is the most points in Nebraska by a kicker. He was 20-for-27 in field goals and made all of his extra point attempts.
Maher may not replace Crosby in the end, but at least it will give the incumbent kicker some true competition.